REAL MADRID 4 - 1 GALATASARAY
Ten out of ten for ten-man Real Madrid
Ramos was sent off for a direct red after 26 minutes. Bale opened the scoring and Bulut equalised. Madrid dominated the second half and top their group.
An actress (Shelley Winters) said that once during filming it had been so cold she had almost got married. Tonight it’s likely she would have married the person in the seat next to her with a Ronaldo mask on. Though she might have pursued Arbeloa’s hand in marriage. Or Isco’s. These two were the main men in a game that started without much interest and carried on in the same vein during the first half, until the stars lined up and the Gods smiled.
Nobody could have imagined it when the players trooped off for half-time. Ramos had been sent off for pulling at Bulut, when he was the last man, though the striker still had lots to do. The game itself was poised between the boredom of Madrid and the scare ferocity of Galatasaray. They are basically a boring team.
That’s how it was until Arbeloa burst on the scene. It all started when he scored a goal nobody would have expected him to score, in the centre-forward zone and with a difficult strike to convert the chance – the ball was behind him and so was his leg. The spectators realised this had made the match something rather special and celebrated keenly – though the jumping around may have been as much to do with the cold as the desire to celebrate.
Arbeloa came to life upon hearing this applause that’s rare for him. Just after he appealed for a penalty, but the referee didn’t point to the spot – instead he reached into his top pocket and booked the victim for diving. Not even that affected the Spanish international. There’s nothing better than unfairness to spur a hero on and Arbeloa had just adjusted his cape. His shots were dangerous, he set up Di María for the third and every one of his runs, and there were lots, were acclaimed by the fans. And people will still say the Bernabéu has a heart of stone.
With the party in full swing Isco appeared alongside him. They were already the best two on the park, because some player’s don’t need loot to motivate themselves. If Arbeloa provided the spark, Isco was the inferno for Galatasaray. He first of all showed off some of his unbelievable skill, and then scored a fantastic goal, made out of great cut-backs and terrier-like insistence.
In summing up there’s something for everyone. Bale scored a tasty free-kick that ended up being forgotten with other great bits of play in the second half. Casillas reminded everyone who he is with a superb save from a solid Drogba header. Casemiro was good again as Khedira’s substitute and Illarra helped the circulation like a policeman at an intersection. To round off the party Xabi was received with an ovation. The fans are getting involved in his contract renewals.
The conclusion: Madrid keep getting better and on cold nights it’s hard to know who to marry.